Mining, quarrying and tourism: some examples in Portugal

A complex and diversified geology endows Portugal with a considerable mineral potential, leading to the occurrence of considerable number of ore, industrial and ornamental stone deposits.

Mineral exploitation has a present considerable high level originated from world class deposits, as Neves-Corvo (Cu, Sn) and Panasqueira (W), but also from a lot of some other deposits producing salt, feldspar, kaolin, ball clay and fire clay, ornamental stones and some other mineral substances. Portugal is presently one of the main UE producers of copper, tin and tungsten concentrates and an important world producer of ornamental stones.

Exploration activity is also at a high level considering the relative small extent of the territory (roughly 90 000 Km2). Several international companies conduct exploration mainly focused on base and precious metals.

Tourism is also an important economic activity in Portugal, but sometimes conflicts occur with industry, like the mining sector. Nevertheless, Portugal has developed in the last 10 years an abandoned mines rehabilitation national program, which improves a lot the mining sector image. Also Geotourism has increased its importance, with several examples all over the country. Those are some of them.

  • The Arouca Geopark: slates exploitation conducted by the ValĂ©rio & Figueiredo, Lda. company allowed the discovery of giant trilobites. The company understood the importance of this discovery and start to collect the fossils and to build an interpretation centre. This was the main reason of the Arouca Geopark settlement, which is attracting today a lot of tourism.
  • The Tabuaço tungsten project: Colt Resources Inc. intends to start explotation of tungsten on 2014 in a region located in the Douro region, which is an important area for its particular landscapes and for its economical importance related with the production of Port wine. In the area, which has been intensivly explored in the last years, also exit a convent and a winery, now property of the company. Colt is willing to combine the deposit exploitation with the tourism attractibility related with a charming hotel in the convent, wines and landscape.
  • Limestones exploitation and dinosaurs: the “Serra d’Aire e Candeeiros” region is nowadays the most important ornamental stones (limestones) extraction centre in Portugal. It’s also an important natural park with some protected areas. This area is also the main source of the Portuguese world famous pavement “calçada”, that we can see in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, for instance. The limestone exploitation allowed to discover several dinosaur’s tracks and footprints, with an important scientific interest, attracting tourists of all the ages.
  • The Lousal pyrite mine: the former Lousal mine is located in the Iberian Pyrite Belt, the most important Portuguese mining district, where mining started 5000 years ago. The mining and geological tourism becomes a major objective for municipalities and foundations in this region, where public and private investment is represented. A new mining museum is now present in Lousal, as well as a charming hotel, constructed based on the rehabilitation of the old mine administration old palace. More recently a Science Centre (Mine of Science) was implemented, besides of other infrstructures, attracting 80.000 visitors/year.

Luís Manuel Plácido Martins, Colt Resources